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Journal: These are the things in my head at night 7

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

Then-PFC, now-SGT Bergdahl may in fact have deserted his post. There are certainly credible accusations to that effect, and if so, then he should be tried and convicted for the crime. But it's a whole lot easier to investigate those charges with him here, and we don't let the Taliban mete out justice for us.

Comment: Go for it! (Score 1) 405

So it sits there. Unpublished by anyone. I'll never know if nobody likes it until I hit the go button. But I'm also scared to learn that I suck at something I enjoy doing.

I went through a similar process to yours, with agents liking (but not taking) my novel. My wife has won literary awards for works agents wouldn't take because they couldn't see her stories becoming best sellers. Not just doing well (which they admitted they would do), but becoming best sellers! The entire publisher/agent thing is a bad joke on creative talent. These self appointed gatekeepers of our culture often miss the next big thing and are rarely looking for a new, different voice despite what they claim, but rather the next celebrity ghostwritten tripe where they can make a quick buck.

I can relate to your fear of rejection...I share it...but I'd encourage you to go for it. Make sure your book is professionally edited and proofread (this is absolutely critical, and far too many self-published authors don't do this). While you're doing that, figure out a promotional strategy. For example, line up bookstores in your area for signings, create a presence on goodreads, participate in book fairs, lit fests, and conventions applicable to your genre, etc.

Don't be too disappointed if you don't sell a ton of copies (it is very hard to get noticed), and don't measure yourself on that...measure yourself on how well people enjoy your work. That is the real metric on how well you write, and how good your work is. My novel Autonomy received all kinds of good reviews (from people I've never met!), but it's still not a "best seller." Just put your edited, polished work out there and if those who read it love it, then you don't "suck at something" you enjoy. Quite the opposite.

Comment: Banks deflecting attention from themselves (Score 2) 342

by FreeUser (#46683107) Attached to: Australia May 'Pause' Trades To Tackle High-Frequency Trading

High frequency trading isn't the issue. The banks are the real "insiders", and are pointing fingers at small, high frequency prop shops to deflect attention from themselves, and to get back to the bad old days when they could really gouge their customers with wide spreads.

High frequency traders make their money by having better pricing models, narrowing spreads in the market, and being able to execute and then get out of a position quickly to lock in their profits and eliminate risk. The banks like to be the middleman, with wide spreads, so that they can pocket the difference.

The net result of high frequency traders is that the rest of us can get a stock much closer to their actual value (due to narrow spreads). Yes, the high freqency traders make good money by selling the stock $0.005 off the "real" value to me and then immediately getting out of the position by reselling it a millisecond later and locking in that $0.005 profit, but I have only paid a premium of $0.005 instad of the $0.35 or worse the banks would love to gouge me for (and used to, a few short years ago).

We get rid of high freqency trading and we'll be back to the bad old days, when the real insiders really did gouge us, and we all paid far too much for our investments, and were able to sell at far too little, with the likes of Goldman Sachs pocketing the enormous difference.

As for the front-running nonsense on 60 Minutes, that's always been illegal (contrary to what we're being told), and it is not at all how high frequency trading works. If someone was in fact doing that, then they're in a whole world of hurt with the SEC (and rightly so), but this entire exercise appears much more like a distraction: blame small outsider firms who've made the marketplace more effecient and tightened spreads for problems created by corruption within the big banks, and hope no one notices...at least until the next bank-induced crash.

Comment: Re:Isn't this a lot like programming? (Score 1) 107

No, biological processes are inherently non-deterministic, and this becomes more apparent the smaller the scale. At the genetic level, it's all about probabilities. I suppose you could argue the same about computation since circuits are now getting small enough for quantum effects to show up, but I don't think most programmers are explicitly modeling random bit flips! On large scales, when you're talking about big programs with lots of different possible inputs, it's often more effective to model them statistically, I agree, but the underlying processes are still quite different.

Comment: Re:Next goals: (Score 3, Insightful) 107

Co-evolution only looks "co" on very large timescales; every new trick our immune systems have come up with has been in response to something a pathogen already came up with. Sure, there always can (and will) be new plagues, whether the victims are trees or people. I just think they're a whole lot more likely to come from the nigh-uncountable number of random "experiments" taking place in the wild than they are from anything done in a lab.

Comment: Re:In other words... (Score 1) 284

Corporations don't go to prison for violating censorship laws. The members of the group, employees, owners, and members go to jail. They are the ones who have their assets taken.

That last bit would be a lot more persuasive if it weren't for the concept of limited liability. The whole idea of corporations owning assets, signing contracts, etc. is that the owners of the corporation are to some degree insulated if the corporation "does" something such as breaking a contract that could lead to the loss of those assets--but it really ought to work both ways. As things stand right now, the privilege pretty much only seems to go one way.

Comment: Re:Next goals: (Score 4, Informative) 107

Honestly, I think that fear is overblown. Vertebrate pathogens have had hundreds of millions of years of optimization in the most ruthlessly selective "laboratory" ever known, and while there are obviously some pretty deadly ones out there they haven't managed to wipe us out yet. Nothing we do in a lab is likely to come close, in terms of coming up with something that can spread wildly on its own.

I used to work between a synthetic bio lab at one end of the hall and an infectious disease lab at the other. Ask which one scared me more.

Comment: Re:Isn't this a lot like programming? (Score 2) 107

In a lot of ways, it is similar, but there are some important differences. The biggest one, I think, is that programs are (or had better be!) deterministic: make a particular change and a particular thing will happen every time. Living systems, even relatively simple ones like yeast cells, are stochastic: make a particular change and the probability of a particular thing happening increases or decreases. What you're counting on when growing a culture of mutated cells is that enough of the cells will behave in the desired fashion to make the behavior of the colony predictable, but the underlying randomness remains.

Comment: Re: No problem (Score 1) 423

by TellarHK (#46600743) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?

Have you ever looked closely at medical devices? I work with some systems less than five years old that cost close to $100,000 and they run Windows XP. Should they be replaced? No, not just because the OS beneath the application layer is old. I'm probably the only person in the office that knows it's an XP machine, which helps with security. Sometimes you can't just upgrade.

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